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  • When my friends/studio-mates asked me to contribute to this collection, I immediately scoffed and pulled the "no one cares about another Katrina story", or my story (to be be more exact) and how many blows I have endured along the course of my life in New Orleans. It's really personal and hard to put into words the experiences, the love and (sometimes) hate (that's such a strong word so lets just say "a little aggravation") I have for my birthplace. I left "home", several times, but she always has that way of calling me back and we all know there is nothing new or interesting about that; it's a somewhat right of passage in this city… you leave, you come back, annnnd repeat. It's August 25th, 2012 as I write this while watching the news of a new storm brewing out there. I'm staring at a blank note pad where I should be making that list of things I need to do/prepare for "just in case". And then the slight ADD kicks in and I wander off and think about how far I've come and how much my life has changed since that first evacuation in 2004. The roads traveled, the friends made, the doors opened, the hopes held on to, the heartbreaks experienced and the determination and the will to make the best of it all; instead of jotting down the things I need to do, I jot down the times I've had to create this to-do list in the past few years...

    September, 2004 | Ivan: I was the first and only person in my immediate 3-generational New Orleans family to evacuate for a storm. Twenty-five hours and one 1.5 hour long bathroom-break at a gas station line later, we arrived in Houston, Texas. The storm never hits New Orleans. I witnessed the Pixies reunite in Austin.

    August, 2005 | Katrina: After much debate, I decide at the last minute that the trip needed to be made again. A dear friend's family opened their doors and quickly became adopted new family while I lost all contact with my (real) immediate family who stayed put during the storm.

    September, 2005 | Rita: No explanation needed. Still running from nature.

    October, 2005 Assessed the damage, joined the ranks of others to collect unemployment, and decide there will probably be no need for a graphic designer in New Orleans in the near future. Packed up my little car and moved to the "Windy City". Adopted Mac (the cat). The very last Katrina cat who was rescued by a Chicago animal rescue group during the storm and who also found her way to Chicago. She quickly became my closest friend when those I would see daily are now suddenly scattered across the country.

    August, 2008 | Gustav: The months prior to, I decided it was time to move back to New Orleans. Pulled up to my new home in Mid-City with a U-Haul full of belongings acquired during my 3 year stint away and Mac by my side… the week of Hurricane Gustav. Unloaded the U-Haul, packed up the car, placed Mac by my side (again) and headed to Mississippi with fingers crossed.

    August, 2012 | TBD: Mac on one side of me, Stanley (my new-ish addition to the family - a half pit/half dachshund mix rescue) on the other side while watching the projected path of Hurricane Isaac on the 12:00 news.

    At the risk of sounding all hippie... I've come to some sort of inner peace that I've finally found my way home; not just home in the sense of where my roots are, but where a heart needs to be to actually really call it "home". I'm in my city, on my sofa, in my little 1 bedroom shotgun with the 2 joys of my life that I acquired along the way on this crazy journey to get to this one particular spot in my life - the realization that all of the road-trips, lists made, punches taken and stresses endured, it was all completely worth it to finally get here. Regardless of what anyone tells you... punches are to be expected while living here; it's not always daiquiris and parades but a shitload of hard work, determination and optimism. Those punches are what make this place so special; if you can take 'em and don't give up on her, you will find yourself a part of one hell of a community of friends & neighbors who make up the fabric of what family means in this city. And that's a home worth living in.
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